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5 Tips to Being Funny and Getting on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah

How Did a Serious Analyst End Up on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah?    

What if you could get on TV and talk about your message?

TV needs experts. But, there is nothing duller than a serious expert espousing boring data. Whether you are an entrepreneur, a scientist, or a researcher, you could benefit by being funnier.

When Dalia Mogahed, a research analyst on Muslim issues, came to me for coaching, she was seriously humor impaired. She had an important message about Islamophobia but her speech with charts and graphs was putting audiences to sleep.

To help her grab her audiences' attention I taught Dalia 5 Simple Steps to Getting Laughs.

Her next speech was a hit and because she could speak about a serious topic with humor, she then got invited to be on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.

We continued working together getting her message and laughs ready for her national TV appearance. Here is a video of us working together.

Her appearance on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah was a hit and since then has gone viral topping even Lady Gaga.


Watch her Daily Show appearance here and see if you can identify the comedy techniques we used.

5 Tips to Get Laughs:

How to Get Laughs Tip #1: Orchestrate a Laugh with Your Hands

After a joke, don’t step on your laugh, but rather force a reaction by sticking your hands out towards the audience, nodding your head, as if to say, "Am I right?" "Don't you know it?" Smack!

How to Get Laughs Tip #2: Have a Serious Setup and then a Turn

You'll get more laughs being serious and then surprising the audience with an unexpected turn. When coaching Dalia for her TV appearance I wanted her to get a laugh right at the beginning. So, when Trevor said, “Welcome to the show.” Dalia said, “I’m so excited to be here, I’m a big fan of yours… But I'm also just as excited anytime I clear security and arrive anywhere I travel.” Bam!

How to Get Laughs Tip #3: After you Establish your Credibility, Don't be Afraid to Shock

Shock doesn’t have to be sexual, but rather something unexpected. If you are uncomfortable saying something shocking, you can always attribute it to another person so it doesn’t diminish your credibility.

When Dalia Mogahed said in her speech, “I have to tell you that this is my first time putting some humor into my talk. I was really nervous 'cause I'm a researcher... I get paid to be serious. So I asked my friend, comedian Judy Carter,  'Judy, what if I tell a joke and nobody laughs?' And she said, 'Well, it's not like it'll be the first time they see a Muslim bomb.'” She got the laugh, and I got the credit. WooHoo!

How to Get Laughs Tip #4. The Holy Grail Of Comedy – The Act-Out

Instead of talking about someone or something, you perform it -- you become the people and things you mention in your story.  For instance, this is an example of an Act-Out from comic Wanda Sykes’ act:

“I was hanging out with my little nephew, and the kid - he had a helmet, shoulder pads, knee pads, some shin guards, gloves. And he’s saying, 'I'm going to ride my bike.' I'm like, 'Where - through a minefield?' Bling!!

How to Get Laughs Tip #5: Make Fun of Yourself

Joking about something obvious about your appearance is a great way to get laughs. Since Dalia Mogahed is a Muslim who wears a hijab, when Trevor Noah asked her why she wore a head covering, she slowly and seriously setup the joke by beginning, "The main reason [Muslim women] dress this way is because I never have to have a bad hair day." And The Daily Show audience went crazy. Shaboom!

UPDATE: Dalia Mogahed has now been invited to do a TED talk.

Want to improve your speaking skills?
Join The Message of You University
Work with Judy on Your Message! 
View free step-by-step videos at themessageofyou.com.

Are Carbs More Dangerous than ISIS

How to Not Overeat During the Holidays

Orcunkoktuna /Wikimedia Commons
The media have been scaring us about ISIS, but I’m hearing that you’re statistically more likely to die from holiday food than anything done by ISIS. According to the Global Terrorism Database your chance of dying from a terrorist attack is roughly 1 in 20 million.  (See more at What Are Your Chances Of Being Killed In A Terrorist Attack? )

Compare that to the risk of dying in a car accident on the way to your holiday dinner (1 in 19,000); drowning in a bathtub after dinner (1 in 800,000); and Wikipedia notes that obesity is a contributing factor in 100,000–400,000 deaths in the United States per year.

That means that homemade stuffing is 5,882 to times 23,528 more likely to kill you than a terrorist. The bomb we should fear detonating is the one in our chest. It’s shocking to learn how many calories we eat at a meal. According to the Calorie Control Council, the average American will consume more than 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving Day alone.  At my age, with my slow metabolism, I would have to jog from LA to NY and back to work off just one piece of pecan pie. What’s said about Las Vegas could be said about me: what goes into my body stays in my body.

Weight Watchers doesn’t pretend to know what to do about terrorism, but here are some tips from last week’s meeting from my Weight Watcher leader, Amy Brunell to help you not overeat over the holidays.

1. Put everything on a plate.
You can really lose count eating appetizers from the toothpick into your mouth. Putting things on a plate helps limit your impulse eating. And no, repetitive arm movements don’t count as exercising.

2. Don’t eat during preparation.
Half the calories eaten on Thanksgiving come from what’s nibbled during preparation. Again – see tip one and stop hand to mouth impulse eating. ABC News has a breakdown of the calorie contentOMG! Pecan Pie 505 – for just one slice? I’ll just lick the knife and eat some fruit.

3. Go to the bathroom even if you don’t have to go.
In the middle of the meal, leave the table and go to the bathroom. This helps to break the eating frenzy. Look at yourself in the mirror and ask if you’re full. That’s the cue to stop eating. Feel free to do this more than once.

4. Commit to no seconds.
You know what the mashed potatoes taste like on the first go around. Be virtuous and you will be rewarded. You don’t want the only thing from high school you fit into is your high school earrings.

5. Excessively salt the food on your plate.
You don’t have to finish everything that’s found its way onto your plate. I know – what a concept. I was pressured by parents telling me to finish my meal because, “People in China are starving.” That was before we found out the reason they were starving is you’re hungry an hour after eating Chinese food. If you have no restraint, toss massive amounts of salt on what’s left on your plate. You will be far less tempted to eat it.

P.S. Please add YOUR tips for handling the Thanksgiving Food Orgy in comments

Judy Carter teaches how to speak your message and change the world.

More info at judycarter.com.

How to Survive the Paris Terrorist Attack

Did you feel the way I did, as if you were punched in the stomach hearing what happened in Paris? An ordinary, calm night turned into a horror as terrorists gunned down people. I drank a half bottle of wine, ate carbs, and didn’t want to come out of bed.

I became depressed. Which is difficult when you're a speaker who is supposed to make people laugh.

I have a list of things to do when I’m down, but looking at the list was more upsetting. Only someone with a heightened sense of optimism would write, “When depressed: Write a poem. Listen to a motivating podcast. Read a book. Help someone else.” What may have seemed like a good idea when I was bursting with an “I’m high on life” attitude, was now shallow and exhausting. After all, people were killed and they will never read another book. And why would I help someone, as I hate people now.

One of the spectators said the shooters looked normal. As I walked my dogs down Abbot Kinney Boulevard, the trendy shopping street in Venice Beach CA, I passed people and found myself wondering what these normal looking people were capable of. Someone wanted to pet my dog, and I worried he might slip him some poison. 

It was then that my big Springer Spaniel started to get in that, “I’m going to poop” position, right in front of a hip outdoor wine bar and I realized I didn’t have a doggy poop bag. He has generous movements, things that are surely visible from outer space and contribute to global warming. I didn’t know what to do. I could stand over it but people might think it was my doing. If I left to find a bag, people would assume I was shirking my responsibility to clean up, and a hate mob would form. 

That was my metaphor for what the world had come to -- one big pile of sh*t.

And that’s when I saw the elegant woman getting out of her car next to me. She’s a stylish, beautiful older woman who I was sure was going to admonish me. She looked at me as I said in my defense preparing for her attack, “I have no bags!”

Rather than anger, she said kindly, “Let me help.” Then she reached into her car and handed me fancy, gift-wrap paper.

“Oh, thank you… thank you so much….” I told her as I picked up the stack left by my dog. I knew my dog was thinking, “What? Now you’re re-gifting it?”

She smiled and said, “No problem. Have a great day.”

That’s when it hit me that we have a choice as to what we look at. My fear and suspicion were derailed by the kindness of a stranger. Her caring act came between me and the terrorist act. By her reaching out -- the terrorist lost.

What are you doing to not let fear and hate win? 

Effective Speaking Skills I Learned from Donald Trump

Don’t Bury Your Past – Use it to Become President of the United States

You can learn a lot about effective communication skills by listening to the presidential candidates. If you can bear listening to the candidates running for the presidency, you might have noticed that they are in competition with who has had the most difficult, impoverished childhoods.  There is a reason they are all trying to outdo each other about their rocky road to success.

Marco Rubio likes to bring up that he was born to Cuban immigrants with a father working as a bartender and mother in a retail store. Pobrecito, Marco!

Ben Carson is being securitized, not for the fact that he is a world-renowned surgeon, but because he claims to have been a troubled, violent youth on food stamps who grew up in an inner-city.

Hillary Clinton is now eager to talk about her mother, who had been abandoned by her own parents and worked as a housekeeper.

And Trump joins in with his stories about the difficulties of the business world, saying, "It has not been easy for me… I started off in Brooklyn, my father gave me a small loan of a million dollars." Okay, he likes to Trump the others. The only thing my father gave me was advice and a low metabolism.

Why do they publicize their past hardships?  Because, these are all example of communication skills. They know it’s not what we ACHIEVE that connects us to others, but the JOURNEY of how we overcame obstacles to get where we are. Another words, it’s not that you are a COO, a VIP or a CEO that’s makes you a BFD; it’s the road you took to get to success.   

Those of us who are not running for President are more likely to be giving our history at a business meeting, on a job interview, or on a date and we think it’s counter intuitive to focus on the painful and difficult part of our lives. Yet, it is the very things we tend to hide from others that define us and give us good communication skills.

Not only does our mess to success story inspire empathy and create a connection with an audience, it’s our MESSES that are most likely to be FUNNY. So many of my comedy friends, especially the hilarious ones, had difficult childhoods. When I was writing The Comedy Bible  and teaching standup workshops, the students who had nothing to kvetch about were NOT funny. Being rich, happily married, and not being able to gain weight will, I promise you, not get laughs. Want to know how to be funny? Have a miserable childhood.

It’s not impossible that a troubled past not only wins over others and gives us effective communication skills, but it motivates us to attain success. Would Steve Jobs have become the innovator of the tech industry if he hadn’t experienced rejection because of being given away for adoption? Would Walt Disney have created “The Happiest Place on Earth” if he hadn’t been raised by a violent, alcoholic father? Maybe not.  

Whether we are a business person wanting more effective communication skills, a job seeker wanting to connect, a comic wanting laughs, a Toastmaster wanting better speaking skills, or a presidential candidate wanting votes, we all need to own our mess to success story – not only to tell to others, but to appreciate how far we’ve come from where we started. A sad past is an asset; it gives a message of hope to others.  

The candidates understand that a good mess to success story has the power to win others over.

Do you know what your mess to success story is?
Can you express it?
How can you use it?

I would love if you shared your own mess to success story.  Please write in the comments below.

Coming February 2016 - "The Message of You" University!
Interactive online videos to Find your message, Write your Speech, and Inspire Others.

Judy Decodes Exactly What it Takes to be a Toastmaster World Champion of Speaking

Judy Carter autographing The Message of You 
and The Comedy Bible for Glenda Dickonson
When Mohammed Qahtani of Dharan, Saudi Arabia, District 79, became the 2015 World Champion of Public Speaking, I was in the audience at Caesar's Palace and heard his speech, "The Power of Words." I knew within 30 seconds that he would win.

We ALL can learn from what I heard, especially Toastmaster women. What a shocker that not one of the finalists was a woman. There were no Toastmistresses. And this was Vegas!

Study these 6 Essential Speech Elements of Mohammed’s speech and let’s turn you into a winner.

(Watch highlights from Mohammed’s Speech here.)

1.    Got message and stories? Mohammed’s “The Power of Words” was very clear. Each story supported what he was trying to convey. He talked about a friend who'd killed himself because of his father’s words, so painful and distancing. It became clear that his message was something he was living. It was authentic. What is your essential message that you are living now?

2.     Get Global.  Every personal message has widespread impact. Mohammed worked “global warming” into his speech. Smart thinking! He used a personal experience to connect to larger ideas. Women can learn from this. We find it so easy to talk about our bodies, our relationships, our experiences, emotions and opinions. These are great for starting; personalizing is connective tissue. But, to be a world champion, we must take a helicopter view of our lives and see what we have to say to the larger world. Thinking of your life in terms of where you fit into current issues will expand your message and increase its influence. 

For example, I brought Kimberly onstage during my speech at the conference, (no it wasn’t planned) and asked for a difficult moment in her childhood. She mentioned an encounter with her teacher in 4th grade. I sensed there was a bigger story. Finding out she lived in South Carolina, I asked her, “What was it like to live as an African American surrounded by Confederate Flags?” That opened up thoughts and feelings that she'd kept buried for years and led to her proclaiming a powerful message, “No one should ever be made to feel less than.”

What part of history has affected who you are and, therefore, can be your message?

3.    Have act-outs.” Let’s face it, speeches are not dramatic. They have none of the glitz of a Vegas show. There are no costume changes, no incredible scenery, and no big cast singing and dancing. It’s one person in a suit, usually pants, not a skirt. To strengthen the entertainment value of your speech, “act-out” the people you mention. Infuse them with life and character. In Mohammed’s speech, he said something along the lines of, “Data and graphs aren’t as powerful as words. We will never change global warming by having a scientist show us data and graphics.” He then acted out a boring scientist talking about the data of global warming and the audience fell apart. This is what it means to “Be your story” rather than to “Tell your story.” Show, don't tell. Stand like the characters, move the way they do. Bring them to life. 

4.    Be Funny. A newbie at National Speaker’s Association asked a pro, “Do I have to be funny to be a speaker?”

And the answer, “No, only if you want to get paid.”

Mohammed got a laugh on his first word – “What?”

Doesn’t look funny does he, but add facial expression, attitude, and audience interaction and he got a huge laugh on the very first WORD.

But most important, he wasn’t going for the joke, but rather for his message.

As a comedy writer, I never go for the jokes when I'm doing my first draft. I start with the message – stories and ideas and find the logic. When that's in place, I punch up the material. To get laughs, start by looking for people you can “act-out.” Get a copy of The Comedy Bible to put together a standup act, or use the Comedy Formulas for Speakers in The Message of You.

5.    Gain confidence by performance time. There is only one way to do this: prepare. Practice and get comfortable with your material. As soon as Mohammed opened his mouth, I felt his confidence. I knew I was watching a pro. One of the most important lessons Ive learned from my years as a standup comic and coaching both comics and speakers is that its not always about how great you are or even how perfect your material is, but what you learn every time you get on stage.As a standup, there were countless painful gigs, such as performing for drunks who heckle, working small audiences, having to perform on a revolving stage so when I got to my punch line I had a new audience. As painful as those gigs were, I was gaining the brain and muscle memory I needed to handle any type of crowd. Oh, this is how you do a small crowd, a tired crowd, a disinterested crowd and so on.” Get up as much as you can in front of your Toastmasters group or in front of any audience. Whether you bomb or do well, you are always learning.  That has a cumulative effect and the audience will relax when they feel you're a pro.

6.    Be selfish. Get help. Focus on what YOU have to do to win. When the finalists came out and it was clear they were all men, I overheard a 30-something female Toastmaster comment to the guy sitting next to her, “No women? We need to change that. We have to work together to help women become finalists.”

And the man sitting next to her said, “With that attitude, you'll never win. You’re thinking of helping someone and every Toastmaster man is thinking, “How can I become the champion?”

He does have a point. Women tend to be caretakers, always out to support someone else. That's something we should do for ourselves too. We have to consider what's our message and work on telling it the best way possible. It requires focus and looking inward.

I’m launching The Message of You University in the near future. This is where we focus on YOU. We find your message, your stories, your humor, and help you be your very best.

Meanwhile – please share this blog with people who need it!

With love – Judy

The Comedy Bible  •  The Message of You
Judy Carter coaching & speech writing programs available here.
Contact: judy@judycarter.com  •  Follow on Twitter 

Judy's Blog

Judy Carter blogs on comedy, storytelling and public speaking techniques, using personal stories and her adventures as a stand-up comic turned motivational public speaker. Her weekly blogs are read by fans of her books, “The Comedy Bible” (Simon and Schuster) and “The Message of You” (St. Martin’s Press), which include comics, speakers, and entrepreneurs. She is also known for teaching the value of humor and storytelling to businesses as a leadership and stress reduction tool.